Petrolpreneurship in Manipur: A Lousy Business Option

Petrolpreneurship is currently chosen as a profitable business option by many individuals since it is the easiest one to start sans any management skill or experience. As a result of the rising tribe of petrolpreneurs in Manipur, the price of petrol is inflated every now and then, while the purse of common people is deflated. A ridiculous business option, Manipur Masala shares some serious concerns about petrolpreneurship: the business of ‘Kok chaaklaba and karaam chaoba lots of gari thao’.

Manipur is a haven for black marketers and that is our open secret. The nature of ‘black marketing’ keeps changing from time to time. Out of the many options, cooking gas and petrol are two easy targets for the black marketers to churn maximum revenue out of a minimum investment. Nobody can ignore the gas or petrol because we live in a modern society. So, one has acquaintances at the petrol pumps, why not share the profit with them and start a thao yonbagi dukan? So is the case of cooking gas. Sounds funny but this is exactly how things are going on in our state.

My area of interest is not in conducting a thorough research in black marketing in Manipur. Statistics lies, formal studies are a source of ridicule in Manipur, though it is no wonder considering again, the great Manipuri mentality. However, it concerns my sanity when some basic needs of the common people such as cooking gas and petrol are relegated to black marketing every now and then with the authorities turning a ‘mitaang’ eye; though I might be biased as the Indian Oil Corporation is also a major stakeholder in this great Indian state.

Greed and lunacy have inspired the black marketers to such an extent that they leave no stone unturned to rob us every now and then. The present petrol shortage is a clear-cut example of how we are robbed in broad daylight. When have we ever got relief from fuel crisis in Manipur? Why petrolpreneurship is not yet questioned? Why black marketers are openly fed right from our pockets? Who are these black marketers? And why isn’t our media reporting anything about who are the gory thugs controlling such markets here in Manipur? Also, why is our government so comfortably numb and dumb during many a situation like this? These are some questions we should start discussing about. Artificial drought, artificial shortage of fuel, artificial crimes- how many more artificial problems do we need to enlist? Oh, these are just trivial questions. Ta:Naobi says he is happy, he gets the best dishes for wife, he gets the best ‘asaaba’, he earns the maximum profit, whenever there is a blockade.

I empathize with many Khura-Taada and Eney-Indol selling petrol openly at their thongaal (though the most common venue of selling petrol is near, or to be precise, at the entrance of the petrol pump). Isn’t it ironic? Petrol pumps run out of petrol and then all of a sudden, there are so many temporary petrol yonfam dukan swarming up near the petrol pumps. Most of them seem to have collaborated with the petrolpreneurs but they do not seem to be the real culprits. They try to earn a humble livelihood by selling those bottles of petrol with a little profit. I don’t intend to trigger a crusade that would snatch away their means of livelihood. But at the same time, they should also keep in mind that they are caught in a wrong business and that they should think of an alternative means of livelihood before they turn themselves into ‘petrolpreneurs’. Or shortly, the mahajon they had got the petrol from, in the first place.

They say we should always have faith in ‘God’ in good and especially in bad times. Well, here’s my self composed prayer for thee oh ‘God’. ‘Our Father in Soraren holy be thy name, shrewd be thy justice. Sanctify thy children who are ‘kok chaaklaba and karaam jao’ or clear their ‘burdened presence’ from this blue planet of ours. I shall thence offer expensive incense sticks, exotic flowers and scented candles if ye listen to this humble prayer of mine. Amen!’

PS: In a land like Manipur, people never run short of prospective business avenues. So, it seems the day won’t be far when some lunatic business enthusiasts would also come up with airpreneurship; a sort of stocking up fresh air in a tank and selling it at an inflated rate to customers. As a part of ‘thou leitana thou thiba’ project, I have even thought about a few brand names for them with their taglines. ‘Nungsit Chaoba Air Suppliers—As pure as it can be’, ‘Nungsit Tombi Air Suppliers—Pure, Fresh and Affordable Air Just a Call Away’. I would love to visualize and even direct a few television commercials for this particular business. It would be an out-of-the-world experience for everybody. Hello investors, have you made up your mind to churn out the maximum revenue from such a lucrative business opportunity? Think about it.

This article was published on 3 May 2015

The Curious Case of the Unfaithful Wife & the Cremated Girl

We have come across innumerable cases of crime against women all these years. But we hardly come across reports about crime against men. The recent Tentha case should be an eye opener for all of us. Over the years, cases of ‘mou maangkhre’ and ‘mou halaktare’ have been filling all the ad pages in Manipuri newspapers. It would not be fallacious to say that adultery is now a two-way affair. Earlier, it was the men folk who used to enjoy the privilege of adultery but it is no more the same in Matamgi Manipur.

In Matamgi Manipur, women are now more daring to come out of their cocoon. They are no more the same old ‘theibong manungi tin’ with the frog-in-the-well mentality. They are educated and technologically updated too. So, they decide what is right and wrong for them. Today many women have become decision makers, educators and activists in various fields. Thanks to the changing waves of time, our women folk also have many platforms to raise their voice about any ill doing or treatment meted towards them. Of course, these are paradoxical if we compare these with the Tentha case.

Anybody can also say that there is a rising number of domestic problems with the liberal mindset and lifestyle of modern women folk. Though not for all, marriages are no more considered sacred. The beautiful vows of marriage are lost into scorn and mutual hatred between men and wives. Ending a marriage is within the flick of a finger. And quite shamefully, the cases of missing housewives have been increasing like esing echao in our society.

The Tentha case sets one of the classic examples of mou maangkhre or should it be ‘maanghankhre’ incident. The case should not be treated lightly. The poor guy was not only ostracized, but he was also mentally, physically and emotionally robbed and tormented when the mob destroyed his home — the same home where he spent good and bad times with his family. The wife in question should have been more honest. If she wanted to end the marriage, she could try a direct or indirect way to do so. To connive against the poor man with such malice is not an acceptable act in a civilized society.

What perturbs me more is the death of the 19-year-old girl whose body was cremated in place of the missing wife.

Who was she? Was she an orphan? Which is why no one ever claimed or claims her body till date? Or was she another victim of a heinous crime that goes unabated in our state? Why did not the villagers report any missing case about her so far? Or was her body dropped from soraren at an opportune time when the villainous wife wanted to frame the innocent husband to fake her own murder? It sounds quite filmy with a flimsy plot! The mob could not wait to form a JAC to dismantle the house of the innocent husband. Why did not they ever think about confirming the identity of the lifeless body before resorting to any unwanted action? Or is it just another innuendo about our ‘society’s thainadagi heinaraklabi nature’ of not looking before we leap? Whatsoever, we must never forget the uncomfortable truth that the girl was cremated with a wrong identity and it should always disturb our sanity that we are still not trying anything to confirm the identity of the girl. In a land like ours where ‘asibana maangjare’ sets the norm, I think it is a double crime to be dead without hanging an identity card on our neck. Is it time for all of us to start hanging our identity cards on our necks so that we may at least be cremated or buried with a correct identity? Those who are into I card printing business can start venturing out for this lucrative opportunity. Since it is going to be a big project, many groups can now sort out how many percentages they want from this project.

It is also time for our police personnel to start playing the real ‘police–police game’ to maintain proper law and order in the state. As seen in Hindi movies, the police always arrive when the fight is over or when the hero is about to kill the villain. A seemingly good-natured police officer would rush in with a pistol in his hand and a dialogue on his lips, ‘Kaanoon ko apney haath pey mutt loh,’ and then he would catch the villain. The film always ends with the union of the hero and heroine or either the hero with his long lost mother. But that sounds fun only in movies. Real life crimes cannot be tackled in a filmy way.

It is also time we create awareness among the masses about the ill effects of mob justice. The use of the word justice is not justifiable. How can a wrong act be termed as justice? I think it should be termed as a kok leikhatpa syndrome of a mathong maram khangdaba group of people. Whatsoever, this barbaric practice should come to a tragic end as soon as it can. If there is any crime reported in any leikai, the leikai clubs and ‘thajaba yaaba’ civil societies should intervene and put the matter on hold till the intervention of police personnel or the concerned authority. By and by, mob justice should finally rest in peace now.

This article was published on 26 April 2015

School Close Down in Manipur: A Not-So ‘Nupa Thokpa’ Attitude!

Some schools are currently shut down like computers. Well, negotiations are dauntlessly going on. So, these schools, like computers, may be switched on sooner or later. In the meantime, thousands of students are sitting idle at their homes. They cannot go to school even if they want to. What a funny situation? Students want to attend their classes and yet they cannot. Manipur Masala finds this closing down of schools in Manipur a not so ‘nupa thokpa’ attitude.

They say (well they always say) education is the basic right of every child. However, in Manipur it’s debatable whether education is a basic right of every child or not. It should not be a shocking discovery to the rest of the world to know that in our state schools are closed down every now and then just to fulfill the whims and fancies of some ‘do not dare to mention’ groups. But what is funnier is that no one cares, no one ever wants to care. Students enjoy the extended holidays; teachers/parents cannot raise their voice. They are like the operating system of a computer, programmed to do only what they are programmed to do. Well, negotiations are going on. So these schools, like computers, may be switched on sooner or later.

Whatever be their demand or their mode of negotiation, have they ever bothered about the students who have more or less become ‘scapegoats’? I don’t think so. How can they be so illogically moronic? Closing down schools till further notice- that’s it? What kind of notice? That they have settled the matter with the management bodies and that their demands are being fulfilled? But what about the wasted weeks during which thousands of students could not attend their classes? Who is going to compensate the same for them?

In our state, every Hongba, Choba or Tomba wants to fulfill his whims and fancies. The situation is something like this-Oh! We have a magic wand (read supreme power and authority), let’s brainstorm about a wish ta da! (FYI, the only time they ever brainstorm is when they want to impose a demand). Abra ka dabra! Here’s our wish. We want so and so conditions from this and that school so notify the concerned authorities. If they agree to it then it’s fine but if they are reluctant to do so, close down their schools. Who cares? The students will enjoy an extended vacation; the school authorities will put their ass on fire and will run here and there to settle the matter as soon as possible. If they don’t do so in time, they will have to pay the price later errr they will have to conduct extra classes or even ask the students to attend schools on Sundays to cover the syllabus.

Please welcome to ‘Incredible Manipur’, one of the rarest places in the whole wide world where students cannot go to their schools even if they want to. Welcome to Manipur, a tech savvy jungle located in the Northeast India where business minded beasts rule the roost.

The current situation i.e. closing down of some schools in Manipur, should be treated as a sensitive issue. But I wonder what all the sensible civil societies and guardians are up to. Why aren’t they taking up any stern action? Or are they under a ‘waa ngaangba yaadaba’ spell?

Well, let the negotiations and talks between the school authorities and the ‘don’t dare to mention’ groups go on till 32nd December or 31st February. But for god’s sake, let the students resume their studies. We are not living in a jungle. So, better stop acting like uneducated beasts. We have enough bandhjaos, bandhnaos, blockades and brouhahas in our society to mar the study of our students. Let’s at least leave the education zone free from such insensible demand/shamand or percentage/wercentage issues. Let’s pledge for a free and fair education zone. Let the students study, because that’s what they are meant to do.

PS- Over the years, Manipur has become a haven for rabble-rousers, hooligans and what not. In the name of the father, son and the Holy Ghost, I sincerely wish that they perish away from this blue planet of ours as soon as possible. Their existence on this earth is what they call ‘malem loomnabagi masak’. Dear God Alah/Jesus/Krishna/Sidaba Mapu, please be a little ‘nupa thokpa’ and make my wish come true. If not, I will start believing that you don’t exist.

This article was published on 19 April 2015

A Mid-Sajibu Day's Choirol

Along came Sajibu with Yeningtha—the queen of seasons. It’s that time of the year when Mother Nature puts on her flamboyant gown. However, for the past few years in Manipur, the arrival of Yeningtha has become synonymous to an impending man-made drought that lasts for a month or so. Water scarcity between the months of Sajibu and Kaalen has become a seasonal norm. So, we have yet another phobia to offbeat blockade phobia: ‘Esing fanglaroidra haibagi phobia.’

Yeningtha is supposed to be the best time of the year for everyone; merrymaking and basking in the beauties of Nature, while Yaoshang and Cheiraoba offer their best. But a wind of apprehension continuously sweeps at the possibilities of an impending drought in our (sana di leitaba) Sanaleibaak for the last few years.

The causes of water scarcity in Manipur are natural as well as artificial. While it is obvious about the natural factors, the artificial factors should be seriously considered.

Rising guild of waterpreneurs and commercialization of water

Water, water, everywhere yet 250 bucks to pay for 500 litres is the present norm of the day. They say water is precious (oh yes, it is). Water saves lives (yes, it does). Preserve water (who does that but the waterpreneurs).

Over the years, Manipur has evolved its image as a land of enterprising entrepreneurs (which in my opinion is a pretty good sign). It’s encouraging to know about the rising guild of promising entrepreneurs in our state. But then there are some who are caught in the wrong business namely esing thika louba kaangbu, goolie, yoo or any type of mayai kaaba nisha yonba kaangbu. Their sense of business is beyond my good understanding. Waterpreneurship or in simple terms esing yonba gi thika has become quite a fad. Water reservoirs are empty for the masses but they are not for waterpreneurs and that’s where we should start pondering over.

If there is enough water supply for the waterpreneurs why not for the masses? Or is it that they are sharing whatever profit that they loot from the public? If there is a problem at any of the water reservoirs, isn’t it the duty of the concerned authorities to tackle it? How can they sell us what we deserve for free?

Measures to be taken up to fight water scarcity
1. Appeasing the Rain God
“Appeasing the Rain God with dhoop thaomei, flowers and fruits would be one of the ideal measures to fight water scarcity,” says Louwu Sing-u expert Mr. Tomaal. Many civilians are also of the opinion that if they keep appeasing the Rain God, they will not suffer from drought or a drought like situation in Manipur. Superstitious though it sounds, it is one of the measures that can be recommended to fight water scarcity in Manipur.

2. Empowerment of a proper Frog ministry
Empowering the various Frog ministers also seems to be one of the sensible options. The frogs have been contributing a major share in maintaining talks with the ministry of nong chingi affairs currently based in the Soraren Department. They have been meticulously croaking for days and nights as a result of which the state has finally received some amount of rainfall over the past few days.

In a state like Manipur, it is an ironical situation where frogs are more effective than the MLAs, ministers and their concerned departments.

3. Harvesting of rain water at our own Pukhri /tank
The best solution to fight water scarcity is by harvesting enough rain water at our own pukhri or water tanks. It’s the high time to dig more pukhri or construct tanks. Having a pukhri in our ingkhol may sound old-fashioned to many but then it is one of the best ever solutions to fight water scarcity. Awareness programs on hygienic harvesting of rain water should be held by ‘mabukchel chaoba NGOs’. Media should also play its role in educating the masses about proper harvesting of rain water. By and by, water is our basic necessity. Let us not waste it. Let us not commercialize it as well.

This article was published on 5 April 2015
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